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Green City Works Celebrates its First Anniversary
One year ago, UCD officially launched Green City Works, a landscaping social venture that provides design-build-maintenance services for commercial clients while employing West Philadelphia residents. We took a moment to check in with GCW General Manager Brian English, as he reflects on his first year with the rapidly growing company.
Brian, who has over twenty years of experience in the landscaping industry, has been heartened by local partners’ interest in the new company. “The institutions really get what we’re trying to do,” he says, and with a client list of 18 institutions and businesses – including the Philadelphia Water Department, University of the Sciences, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation and Brandywine Realty Trust – that certainly seems to be the case. In just a year, Green City Works has taken on maintenance for nearly 1 million square feet of green space across University City.
Green City Works has a ten-person crew, comprised of formerly unemployed West Philadelphia residents. Built on the foundation of UCD’s job training program the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, the venture ensures that employees receive the robust training and support needed to succeed on the job.
“It’s been fantastic to see their development,” explains Brian. “Now they have the confidence to go out there and be professionals.” Brian uses each project to not only grow the company’s portfolio, but ensure the team is building their expertise. A highlight of the 2016 season was the design and installation of the University of the Sciences Rain Garden project, as it allowed the team to exercise a range of skills: planting perennials, building a dry creek bed, conducting irrigation system modifications and repair, and operating critical power equipment.
What’s next for 2017? “With a year of experience and a wide range of projects we’ve accomplished in 2016, we’re ready to compete as a premium landscape company,” says Brian.
In addition to starting new contracts – maintenance for the Cira Center and along the Schuylkill River Trail – he’s focused on growing his team’s skills in 2017. “This year, we’re moving people into supervisory positions and focusing on growth and advancement; this year is about people development.” This vision is what sets Green City Works apart: the venture is committed to good wages and benefits; full-time, year-round positions; and advancement opportunities. As a result, we have built a dedicated team with nearly non-existent turnover.
Brian is excited about what Green City Works has been able to accomplish in the past year, and what it means for the larger community. “We’re proving the concept that there’s talent in West Philadelphia that’s being overlooked. There’s so much economic activity here in University City, and companies aren’t always tapping into the talent. We’re setting an example that the work can go to unemployed West Philadelphians.”
To learn more, check out the new Green City Works brochure, and read about us in recent coverage from Generocity and PlanPhilly. Interested in hiring Green City Works for your commercial project? Contact Brian English at 215-243-0555, or [email protected].